THE UK’s leading charity for visually impaired people has commended Jaguar’s Audible Vehicle Alert System (AVAS), which has been developed specifically for the pure-electric I-Pace.
As part of a new working relationship between the car maker and Guide Dogs for the Blind, members of the charity participated in tests that helped fine tune the system for use on the road.
AVAS has been designed to let pedestrians affected by sight loss know a pure-electric car is approaching. As well as being permanently active when the car is travelling at speeds up to 12mph, the audio cues distinctly changing in pitch and tone depending on the I-Pace’s speed and whether it’s driving forward or reversing.
During the four years of development time, Jaguar’s engineers found the feedback to be invaluable in areas such as deciding what noise should be used.
Originally, the plan was for AVAS to emit futuristic audio reminiscent of UFOs from science fiction — a sound similar to that used on other electric cars — but this was soon dropped by Jaguar after the sound prompted testers to look up to the sky rather than towards the car.
Though the AVAS has been developed primarily with visually impaired people in mind, Jaguar sees the system benefitting other road users and pedestrians too. As electric cars make less noise at low speeds than a conventional petrol or diesel car, having an always-on acoustic system should help make other people aware of where the vehicle is in relation to them.
As the Jaguar I-Pace’s AVAS meets new European Union legislation (which dictates all new electric cars from July 2019 must come with a permanently-active audio alert at low speeds), the technology will feature on all Jaguar EVs built after that date.
Jaguar’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) technical specialist Ian Suffield said: “The absence of traditional engine noise from electric vehicles creates a problem for vulnerable pedestrians, such as the blind or visually impaired. This is especially true at low speeds in town centres and car parks.
“We developed the Audible Vehicle Alert System for the I-PACE to ensure the safety of all road users. Our potentially life-saving technology cannot be switched off and as the leading charity for people with sight loss, we are pleased to have the support of Guide Dogs to ensure real people are at the heart of our product testing.”
The Jaguar I-Pace is the British car maker’s first all-electric model, and paves the way for all new Jaguar cars launched from 2020 to be either hybrids or fully electric.
It’s also an extremely popular car, having picked up multiple awards since its launch earlier in the year – including the Car of the Year gong at The Sunday Times’ inaugural Motors Awards.